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No Deaths but Damages are in the Millions Due to Sunday’s Massive Flooding

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Saint Lucia’s northern region experienced massive flooding over the past weekend, with people reportedly trapped inside their homes as the flood waters rushed by.

According to reports from the Ministry for Infrastructure, on Sunday, there were incidents of “land slippage and flooding at numerous points across the island.”

Communications Officer in the ministry, Miguel Fevrier said, the department has been deploying work crew and the technical team has been assessing the situation on ground “with a view to remedying the situation in the soonest possible time”.

While addressing the issue on Monday, Infrastructure, Ports and Transport Minister Stephenson King, who was  recalled to the country whilst in-transit to Mexico City for a Geothermal Congress, described the situation as a “freak weather occurrence”.

King said the torrential rains had caused “flash flooding, landslides, damage to private and public infrastructure and the loss of fixed and movable assets, the value of which I am certain may escalate to a couple million dollars.”

The minister reported that the Met Office advised about an upper level trough which had been affecting the island over the past few days, since last Friday.

Reports state that these conditions escalated into two hours of torrential rains concentrated over the Northeastern quadrant of Saint Lucia resulting in flash flooding and destruction.

Added King: “Such an unusual weather pattern; though the forecasters indicated an expectation of scattered showers, thunderstorms and flooding, could not have been more precisely predicted under the circumstances.”

In response, the department of infrastructure “activated its emergency response plan …with the deployment of various Zonal Technical Teams and cleanup crews to undertake reconnaissance, assessments and clean up to clear the roadways in the affected areas” so as to allow for a return to normalcy along the roadways , “while a more comprehensive assessment will continue in the weeks ahead.”

The National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) Acting Director Maria Medard disclosed that a group of responders included the police, the Saint Lucia Fire Service, the Gros Islet District Disaster Committee, and the National Transportation Committee had been deployed to the Assou Canal area, to help evacuate persons who were stranded in their houses.

“Some people have reported that the flooding was up to their necks. That was in the Corinth, Grande Riviere area,” Medard said.

The NEMO official explained that heavy rainfall on Sunday and downpours in the past week had saturated the soil, contributing to the flooding. Reports indicated otherwise. Other parts of the island appeared to be relatively sunny, though videos and photos on social media showed several areas inundated by water.

Director of the Met Services, Andre Joyeux stated that though the weather disturbance was due to move out by Monday, lingering moisture in the atmosphere triggered some showers over Saint Lucia’s North-East.

He added, “This isolated incident was a little unexpected so we expect partly cloudy skies through the week.”

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of Sunday’s heavy rainfall, Prime Minister Phillip Pierre disclosed that the island was planning to seek regional and international assistance.

At a press briefing, Monday, and in the company of Medard, the prime minister said NEMO has been in contact with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

“NEMO has been in touch with CDEMA and other regional and international disaster response agencies with a view to mobilising assistance for the affected communities,” he explained.

While responders were kept busy working around the clock to conduct a damage assessment, clear roads, and drains, and provide relief to affected individuals, teams were also on the ground assessing the impact on agriculture, Pierre added.

And while there were no reports of death following Sunday’s flooding, NEMO’s acting director expressed concern about indiscriminate garbage disposal.

Pierre cautioned that with the issue of ‘climate change’ now a global phenomenon affecting the planet, its people and their habitat, he appealed to the public to stop disposing of trash items such old stoves, discarded fridges, and plastic bottles into the rivers.

“Once more we are begging and urging the public of Saint Lucia not to dispose of these materials in the waterways and rivers,” Pierre stated.

He warned: “Climate change is real. These weather events are going to be more frequently and more devastating.”

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